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Hit that spot!

Sun and bleach combine to help remove unsightly furniture stains.Traditional Home

One of the questions most frequently asked of wood-care expert Homer Formby is how to get stains or spots out of wood furniture.

"White rings on wood surfaces are minor damage, usually caused when moisture becomes trapped in the finish," says Formby. "Dark rings are another matter. They signify that water has gotten into the wood and caused mildew."

Formby recommends removing dark discolorations with household laundry bleach, using the following procedure:

First, completely remove the old finish with a commercial stripper. Because dark stains generally indicate that water has permeated the finish, it is likely that the finish is damaged or deteriorated to the point where refinishing is necessary.

Next, place the piece in the sunlight and let it get warm. If working on windowsills or other permanent fixtures, position high-wattage spotlights over the wood to heat it. The light will start the bleaching action. Keep spotlights 18 inches from the wood surface, and supply a constant flow of fresh air if working indoors.

Using a stick with rags tied onto one end as an applicator, swab household chlorine bleach onto the wood full-strength. Ensure that the bleach does not drip down the sides of the piece, and keep the top surface wet with bleach by repeating applications every 10 minutes or so until the stain has vanished.

Once the stain has disappeared, rinse the entire surface with clear water, and leave the piece under the heat source so it dries quickly and thoroughly.

This will remove the color from the wood, as well as the dark stain. After the wood is dry, stain the wood and refinish.

Although this process is time-consuming, it does not involve hard physical labor and is quite inexpensive.

Use the same process to refinish stained wood a lighter shade.